A couple of weeks ago I was invited by the owners of a build-to-rent development in Wembley to see at first-hand what this emerging kind of rental property looks like – in this case a 440-unit just off the A406 called WemLondon.
As I walked in, immediately I could sense the positive energy of a communal environment with loads of young professionals either coming out of the gym or sitting in the restaurant bar area.
I wanted to see what the claimed ‘tenant customer focus’ looks like in the flesh and, after speaking to a few tenants, I could see the satisfaction they have from living in a co-living community with amenities.
But how much for a home at WemLondon? Studio and one-bed apartments are 340-420 sq ft, with average rents £1,500 a month plus bills, although I noticed that one-bed apartments in similar blocks nearby can reach £2,195 a month.
All the amenities were on the ground floor including a large shared workspace for the residents many of whom were sat working in silence on their laptops with their flat-white coffees.
And there was even a barber shop in the building too.
The area around Wembley stadium is awash with large shiny high-rise buildings like this, all offering a very different rental experience to their customers which focus on creating communities.
Growing trend And it’s a growing trend. There are 237,000 build-to-rent units in the UK including 73,000 completed, 47,000 under construction and 115,000 in planning, although the majority are in London.
What surprises me when I’m travelling around the country doing talks for landlords is that very few are fully aware of the how fast build to rent is growing, and the experience they offer to tenants.
The reality is that if you are renting out property in urban areas, it’s likely that a competitor will be this sort of accommodation.
For the moment, the competition is weak as dozens of tenants fight over every property within the private rental market, regardless of quality.
But as the number of build to rent properties rises, quality and tenant experience will become more important including what’s offered as part of their monthly rental.
When I spoke to the MD of Canada Israel UK Real Estate, which is the company behind WemLondon, he said it was his company’s first build to rent development in the UK, which has been a huge success and that they are planning to build another 1,000 units on site.
We clearly need more international developers to create more housing for the rental market.
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